New owner: Powderhorn will be open this season

Andy Daly of Vail raises his bid board during the auction of Powderhorn Ski Resort on Thursday. Daly bought the ski area and 700 acres of development land below the ski area for a total of $1,402,500

The new owner of Powderhorn Ski Resort said Thursday he plans to open the resort this ski season.

Former Vail Resorts Inc. President Andy Daly, who currently serves on the Vail Town Council, purchased the resort and its assets for $577,500 at an auction Thursday afternoon in the resort’s Day Lodge. Daly also paid $825,000 for 700 acres of undeveloped land below the resort.

Daly has operated ski resorts, including Copper Mountain and Beaver Creek, but this is the first resort he will own. Daly said he became interested in purchasing Powderhorn after talking to friends in the Grand Valley.

“It’s a diamond in the rough,” he said.

Daly said he and his partners plan to invest in upgrades to the resort, including improvements to the resort’s chairlifts and snow-making system.

Steve Bailey owned Powderhorn for 13 years with Dean Skalla and said he is pleased with the outcome of the auction. The auction yielded $2.08 million in separate bids for the resort, the neighboring Inn at Wildewood, a condominium development site, and a handful of development sites and single-family lots in the Powderhorn area.

Bailey said he isn’t exactly sure how much he and his partner paid for Powderhorn when they bought it from Telluride developer Ted Martin in 1998 because it was “a convoluted situation” that involved taking on bankruptcy debt and “never had a number assigned to it.” But he estimated he earned more in the auction than he paid for the resort and its holdings.

According to the Mesa County Assessor’s Office, Powderhorn sold for $1.025 million and $2.021 million in two separate purchases made in the 1990s.

Two dozen people registered to participate in Thursday’s auction, hosted by Alabama-based auction firm J.P. King, and about 200 people packed the lodge to witness the auction.

Steve Hunt, owner of Steve Hunt Auction Services in Grand Junction, said he attended the event to support fellow auctioneers. But when he saw some of the bidding prices, which went as low as $5,500 for a subdivision lot, he decided to team up with his father and a few friends to purchase the Inn at Wildewood for $247,500.

“This is a great buy. I just sold a condo at auction for more than this,” Hunt said. “For cash buyers today, this is market value.”

Buying spur of the moment “is the best way to buy,” he added.

While Hunt’s plans for the inn remain to be determined, he said he bought it so it could stay locally owned. In the short term, he plans to keep the building and let it “pay its way.”

As for Bailey, he said he plans to retire now that the resort is off his hands. Retirement is what inspired Bailey and Skalla to sell the resort at auction.

A seasoned pilot, Bailey said he plans to keep a home in Ridgway while traveling the country in a motorhome.

“I’ve seen America from above. Now I’m going to see it at eye level,” he said.


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